MANILA, Philippines - Passengers stranded at airports due to weather-caused flight cancellations are only entitled to ticket refunds and not to hotel accommodations, or meals, Transportation Chief Joseph Emilio Abaya said Tuesday.
"When cancelled due to force majeure, you claim the full value (of the ticket as a refund). They (passengers) are not entitled to hotels or meals," Abaya told [email protected]
"For Quinta, this is force majeure so they (passengers) should just accept the fact that their vacation will be delayed for a couple of days," he added.
Quinta, which intensified into a tropical storm on Monday, left thousands of passengers stranded in airports and seaports.
Abaya stressed that those whose flights were cancelled are entitled to get their refunds on the same day.
"Whether you get it in cash or cheque or voucher, it should be addressed on the day itself or (you can be) given a document convertible to cash redeemable within the next 15 days," Abaya said.
The government earlier this month issued the Air Passenger Bill of Rights which details what passengers are entitled to in the event their flights are delayed or cancelled.
Moreover, the new measure, which took effect on December 21, helps passengers know what to demand from the airline in cases of lost baggage, or being bumped off a flight because of overbooking.
Abaya explained that for flight delays caused by airline problems or force majeure, passengers are already entitled to benefits such as meals.
"After three hours of delay, you are entitled to snacks or meals, access to phones and e-mail. You can also rebook your flight or you can refund it," Abaya said.
"After six hours, it (the flight) is presumed to be cancelled. You are entitled to the same amenities, however, in addition, you get compensation for the value of the flight cancelled," he continued.
This means that if a flight has been delayed for more than six hours, passengers get meals, access to communication and a ticket refund or a rebooked flight, plus an additional monetary compensation equivalent to the delayed flight's ticket cost.
But delays or cancellations due to government-caused problems such as congestion or equipment troubles will not entitle passengers to perks such as meals or even an option for a refund.
The DOTC's Civil Aeronautics Board has set up Complaints and Assistance Desks in airports nationwide to address passengers' questions and issues.